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Caravans By Night A Romance of India   By:

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Caravans By Night

A ROMANCE OF INDIA

BY HARRY HERVEY

GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

Made in the United States of America

Copyright, 1922, by

THE CENTURY CO.

PRINTED IN U. S. A.

"... Weave me a tale of Romance and Adventure weave it on the loom of Asia; fine threads in the shuttle ... that we who only read may feel the glare and glamour of those spicy, sweating cities; may feel the sheer spell of the stars and the far spaces at dusk ..."

THIS WORD TAPESTRY IS WOVEN FOR MY MOTHER

CONTENTS

I THE EDGE OF THE RIPPLE

II DELHI

III A PIECE OF CORAL

IV HOUSE OF THE SWAYING COBRA

V INTERLUDE

VI HSIEN SGAM

VII THE VERMILION ROOM

VIII "BEYOND THE MOON"

IX FEVER

X CARAVAN

XI CITY OF THE FALCON

XII LHAKANG GOMPA

XIII FALCON'S NEST

XIV GYANGTSE

CARAVANS BY NIGHT

CHAPTER I

THE EDGE OF THE RIPPLE

If you go to the Great Bazaar, which lies west of the Old Palace at Indore, you will see him sitting upon a cushion in his alcove like shop, a very magnificent figure in flowing robes and gold edged turban.

You will find him busy, whether you visit the bazaar in mid morning or in the afternoon; or even after sunset, when lamps embroider the lacework of lanes and alleys.

He is an amiable fellow and he will talk for hours of silks, of jewels (for in those luxuries he deals), or still more eloquently of Peshawar, where the blue peaks of the Hindu Kush let their lips caress the sky as though it were the cheek of some siren. But mention the barbarian with corn colored hair, or the blue eyed Punjabi, and he will suddenly become as uncommunicative as the tongueless fakir who sits before the Anna Chuttra and mutely pleads for alms.

For once, at a time not long past, a mysterious hand reached out of nowhere and touched him with two equally as mysterious fingers. The barbarian with corn colored hair was one finger, the blue eyed Punjabi the other. And as swiftly, as inexplicably, as it came, this hand withdrew but not without leaving its mark upon the memory of Muhafiz Ali, merchant and loyal servant of the Raj.

For ten years before that day when he felt the first impelling wave of intrigue his shop was a haunt for tourists and wealthy residents; for ten years he divided his days between salaaming to customers, cooking his meals over a cow dung fire in the rear, and staring across the roadway with visible contempt at his despised rival, Venekiah, the Brahmin. For all those years Muhafiz Ali had hated Venekiah as only a Mussulman can hate one who wears the trident of Vishnu painted on his forehead. But of late there was another sore that festered deep in his heart and hour by hour fed his rancor with poison. His one son had dared the horrors of an unknown sea (oh, a thousand times larger than Back Bay, Bombay, the only water Muhafiz Ali can offer by way of comparison) on a troop ship, and in a strange country, where monstrous metal things howled destruction and death, the parts of his only born were buried by Christian hands and in a Christian grave!... While Venekiah's son, who never stirred from the bazaar when the sounds of India responding to the Sirkar's call rumbled from Kabul down to the Gulf of Manaar, lived and walked the streets to talk Swaraj and curse the Sirkar and everything bred of the Sirkar!

Muhafiz Ali came from the North, from Peshawar, and the sultry, throbbing heat of Central India dried up the life in his veins. He longed for the sight of his brother hillmen swaggering through the Bokhara Bazaar, at Peshawar; for the smell of camels (perfume to a Peshawari) clinging to the chilly dusk. He hoped some day to have enough rupees to board one of those terrifying, though thoroughly convenient, iron demons that he frequently saw panting in the railway station and ride back to Peshawar, where he would dwell for the rest of his earthly days in a house with a garden and an azure necked peacock that strutted and shrilled like an angry Rajput... Continue reading book >>




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